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One Minute for July 2018 The DSM 5……A Useful Tool in Ministry


Have you ever wondered where mental health practitioners turn in order to diagnose mental, emotional, or behavioral problems? The answer is: they turn to the DSM. Psychiatrists, psychologists, marriage-family therapists, licensed clinical social worker, etc, all go to the pages of this “bible” for mental and emotional disorders. The American Psychiatric Association wrote the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” (DSM) in 1952. DSM-II came out in 1968. DSM-III was revised in 1980. DSM-IV arrived in 1994. In 2013 the DSM-V was published.

The DSM became the standard for diagnosing disorders of adults and children’s mental and emotional conditions. This gave everyone a common description of what was being observes, agreement on the symptoms and conditions that had to be met in order for a patient/client to fit the diagnosis. and gave insurance companies a uniform way of talking about emotional mental health.

Religious leaders, such as pastors, teachers, and other church workers were now able to go to an authoritative source when they suspected a member of the congregation, school, or community needed help. When a person was referred for counseling help, the church worker could look up symptoms and suggest where they could be sent to licensed professional care.

For example, if someone came into your office or class room, and you suspected they were anxious or depressed, you could look up the criteria for that condition. If you felt the care you could provide was beyond your knowledge or ability, you could make a referral to the appropriate professional. The goal is not to make you a diagnostician. But it gives you a resource that can help you make the appropriate referral. You can comfort, encourage, and support someone in trouble. But there may be a time when

you need a professional and knowing something about the DSM may be of a help you. (Copies of the DSM-V are available on

(One Minute is written by Pastor Ron Rehrer, MA, MFT, Counselor for church Workers, phone 949.433.5182; email

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